The Women’s and Men’s World Amateur Team Championships (WATCs) are bi-annual international amateur competitions conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF). The IGF comprises national governing bodies of golf from 126 countries and international professional tours. The 2012 Championships were hosted by the Turkish Golf Federation. The women’s team competition for the Espirito Santo Trophy was conducted Sept. 27-30 at the Gloria Golf Club (Old and New Courses) and the men competed Oct. 4-7 for the Eisenhower Trophy at the Cornelia and Antalya (PGA Sultan Course) Golf Clubs. For more information and a summary of results, please visit the International Golf Federation .
Since 2002 I have had the opportunity to serve as the championship agronomist for the WATCs and assist with course preparations and setup prior to and during the play of the competitions. From a professional and personal standpoint, this has been a very rewarding experience in being able to share agronomic information and experiences, along with making new friendships with the course managers and their staffs at host golf facilities. Compared to hosting any other championship or tournament, the WATCs are a marathon event because of the number of competitors and length of time that championship conditions must be provided. Also, compared to hosting a championship in the U.S., there are typically limitations in available resources such as staff, volunteers, equipment and specialty turf management materials such as fertilizers, growth regulators and pesticides. In spite of these challenges, the course managers and their teams have consistently been able to provide excellent course conditions and great experiences for the top amateur golfers from around the world.
The golf facilities hosting the 2012 WATCs are located in the Belek-Antalya region on the southeastern Mediterranean Coast of Turkey. The weather in this region is similar to Northeast Florida and the Coastal Carolinas, with very hot and humid summers. Thus, bermudagrass is the base turf on putting greens, tees and through the fairways and roughs. In late fall, winter and spring, temperatures are sufficiently cold enough for the base bermudagrass to go fully dormant, and wall-to-wall overseeding is conducted on all of the courses in the region, which is a popular European destination resort area.
Similar to many resort courses in the lower southeastern U.S., establishment of the overseeding cover is initiated in October and is maintained through May of the following year. From June through August, limited play occurs due to very hot temperatures. As such, and along with completely transitioning out the overseeding cover, typical summertime cultural management programs of aggressive aeration and verticutting are performed to re-establish a dense and healthy bermudagrass cover before turning around and overseeding again. American golfers are not alone in their demands for lush green grass. Thus, for the foreseeable future, large acreage winter overseeding programs will continue to be a standard practice at all of the courses in this region of Turkey.
An unexpected concern encountered during this year’s WATCs was mole crickets.
Mole cricket damage on putting greens was an unexpected problem encountered at golf facilities hosting the 2012 World Amateur Team Championships in Turkey.
Unlike in Florida, moderate to large populations and widespread damage is not caused by mole crickets in Turkey, but their tunneling activity and emergence during the daytime did cause some problems on putting greens. There were a couple of instances where the resulting damage prevented the use of previously selected hole locations. It was also necessary to make emergency repairs and install a few cup-cutter plugs that were harvested from the perimeters of the putting greens in severely damaged spots. Given the limitations in insecticides available in Turkey, fortunately mole crickets are not a major pest problem. The standard control strategy is the application of homemade baits containing chlorophorus. This is not the ideal solution for several reasons. First, is due to the reduced efficacy in the control of adult mole crickets and, second, the fact that the application of the bait material on putting greens just prior to or during the play of the Championships is not an option because of the impact on play characteristics. It was possible, however, to provide insight on the more effective mole cricket control treatments currently being used in Florida.
As would be expected with only 17 golf courses in the entire country of Turkey, acquisition of maintenance equipment, repair parts and materials is a major challenge. While Jacobsen, John Deere and Toro equipment is available, costs are much higher and delivery can take four to six months or longer. At the Gloria Golf Club, course manager Murat Ozkaya placed an order for a new set of Toro Flex-21 walk-behind putting green mowers shortly after returning from this year’s Golf Industry Show. The new mowers arrived just prior to the Women’s Championship. After completing final assembly and setup, they were used for the first time during the first competition round.
An alternative headlight setup using LED lights was used on all new putting green mowers delivered to Gloria Golf Club just before the first round of the Women’s WATC.
There were some concerns about going out with a brand new set of mowers, especially because they were set up at a lower bench setting height of cut, but no major problems or damage was experienced. There is no substitute for a top equipment technician in any operation, and I was also very impressed with the alternative LED headlights that were attached to each of the new mowers instead of using the factory supplied headlights.
Finally, and as already mentioned, hosting the WATCs can be a marathon event. With four separate (two each) courses being used for the women’s and men’s competitions this year, maintaining championships conditions for 16 consecutive days at one venue was not necessary. However, what was accomplished by Ahmet Cagil, course manager at Antalya Golf Club, and his team warrants special recognition. Ahmet and Fatih-Sen, course manager at Cornelia Golf Club, where the men’s competition was also played, had their courses in excellent condition for the Championship.
|The 18th putting green of the PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club. Just two days after the Men’s WATC was hosted on this course and at Cornelia Golf Club, the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final started. Course manager Ahmet Cagil and his staff have certainly had their challenges during the first few weeks of October.|
At Antalya, preparation and establishment of the winter overseeding cover was being conducted on the Pasha Course so that it could be reopened to guest play. The final round of the competition for the Eisenhower Trophy concluded Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7; yet the staff at Antalya could not take any time to enjoy what had been accomplished because Tuesday, Oct. 9,the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final started on the PGA Sultan Course. Once this event has concluded, the staff will have to turn right around and overseed the Sultan Course and reopen it to guest play as quickly as possible. Hosting two championships back to back and overseeding two golf courses all in one month is truly an accomplishment. Hopefully the folks at Antalya will now have a chance to take a little bit of time to catch their breath and get some rest after this maintenance marathon.
Switching focus back to the U.S., golfers are starting to arrive back in Florida for the busy winter play season, and this is an excellent time to schedule a Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visit to meet with returning Green Committee members and seasonal golfers. Contact our office at 772-546-2620 to inquire about scheduling and pricing.